Firstly, the death was simply just too convenient and too coincidental, coming just 24 hours after members of the public and prisoners at the courthouse had vowed to get him. Secondly, the death was also “convenient” for many involved in that it circumvented a lengthy trial that could have even led to appeals all the way up to the UK-based Privy Council.
It can be said that Ali provided a convenient vent for the collective rage of a nation enduring a living nightmare of unrelenting murders, very few of which are solved and even fewer for which anyone is convicted and for which no one ever faces capital punishment.
Further Ali, if guilty, might be said to have got a quick way out, rather than endure what would likely be months of awaiting his fate and a possible date with the hangman.
However, the discovery of Ali hanging in his prison cell while supposedly known to be a high-risk prisoner whom the authorities had taken pains to give his own, isolated cell has an air of suspiciousness.
We would like to know what actually happened in jail?
The very worst possible scenario, which is believed by Ali’s relatives, is that he was murdered in his cell. We cannot know whether or not this is so.
However, even if it was not murder, the Prisons Service at the very least is guilty of grave negligence in allowing Ali to somehow access a razor and cord or sheet, with which to respectively slit his wrists and hang himself, plus the conveniently placed ventilation blocks to affix the cord. All this, while equally “conveniently”, no one was watching him, the nation’s most at-risk person.
The excuses have begun already, and we can expect a lot more of them: Oh, the usual period for suicide watch is 15 minutes but this time something went wrong with the schedule, or oh, whatever has happened to the promised new batch of Prisons Service recruits?
The bottom line is that while under the care and protection of the TT Prisons Service, a prisoner has ended up dead. This is not the first time it has happened, as readers will recall a similar child-killer from Mayaro several years ago ending up dead with bruises on his body but with the authorities later blaming his death on AIDS.
So, will this now be a norm, for anyone charged with child murder to meet their death in prison before their case even gets to trial? It is a deadly precedent to set for this nation. It goes beyond the evils done in this particular case and is a greater issue than the particular fate of Ali.
Ali’s death is a stain on the Trinidad and Tobago Prisons Service.
Will we ever be told how this came about? Will anyone in authority be held responsible? Will heads roll?
The death throws a cloud over TT’s law enforcement authorities that is as harmful as past allegations of police officers shooting supposedly unarmed civilians. Without doubt, the incident makes Trinidad and Tobago look even more uncivilised in the eyes of the world.
Further, the death of Ali actually robs Trinidad and Tobago of the satisfaction of seeing due process, of the closure that could have come from the conclusion of a trial, and of finding out and learning lessons from the trial as to what had led to the tragic death of Hope Arismandez.